- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) - Mitchell’s mayor says it’s time the city addresses annual losses at its Corn Palace tourist attraction.

The site has operated at a deficit of at least $300,000 each year from 2011 to 2015. Last year, the loss reached $425,000, The Daily Republic newspaper reported (http://bit.ly/20sgBJj ). The city transfers money from its general fund to cover the losses.

“Any other business that was operating at a deficit like that would put a key in the lock, turn the lock and walk away,” Mayor Jerry Toomey said. “But we can’t do that with the Corn Palace.”

The facility that recently underwent a $4.7 million renovation is billed as the world’s only palace dedicated to the grain. It attracts about 200,000 tourists each year. It also has an arena for concerts and high school and college athletic events.

Toomey is pondering several potential solutions to the facility’s financial woes, including redecorating the building’s corn murals every two years rather than annually. That could save the city about $157,000 every two years, according to City Finance Officer Michelle Bathke.

“If we can save that money every other year and apply that toward the bottom line to make us more profitable, I’m asking the question, ‘Why not?’” Toomey said.

Other options the mayor is considering proposing include a new fee on ticket sales and increasing the amount of donation boxes throughout the building.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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